Thursday, 30 November 2017

November 30th 2017

Disaster Artist
Tulip Fever
Killing of a Sacred Deer

Unfortunately yet again the lack of internet continues in this household, and I’m wondering who out there has advice on how to deal with the behemoth Telstra who insist it takes 6 days to send a tech, even though there is a cable languishing off its moorings on the nature-strip. Aarghhh! Anyway I battle on, and review another raft of films, some already released but only caught up with.

Director: Stephen Chbosky
Length: 113 min
© Roadshow – another film needing a box of tissues
but tackling important subject matter
Young Auggie (Jacob Tremblay) has been born with a congenital facial deformity, and his mum (Julia Roberts) has home-schooled him for all his life so far. Now it’s time to go to real school, and face the challenges of other kids staring, taunting and bullying. This film has won the “Truly Moving Picture Award” and justifiably so. Yes, it’s emotionally manipulative, but the issues tackled are relevant to all bullying situations, and so this is an important film, especially for schoolkids to see. Young Tremblay is superb in the role, and whatever the make-up department has done to balance his strange look with an appearance also vulnerable and appealing really works! Roberts and Owen Wilson (as Auggie’s Dad) are just right together, while the serious subject matter is well-balanced with a goodly dollop of humour.
3.5 – well recommended!

The Disaster Artist
Director: James Franco
Length: 103 min

© Roadshow – good fun - insight into a
truly bad filmmaker
Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is a handsome aspiring actor. In acting class he meets the mysterious wealthy Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and the two head off to LA to try to make it in Hollywood. After countless rejections, Tommy decides they should make their own film, and with his ability to bankroll it they do just that. The resulting film The Room is so incredibly bad, that somehow it ends up getting cult status as “the best bad film ever made”. For those who have seen The Room (which has shown to late night audiences at Nova for more than a decade) it should be a fabulous insight into Wiseau the man, and for those who haven’t, it’s a bizarre look at a man’s ambition and his "artistic process”. The film is great fun, with a poignant undercurrent; one can’t help but feel for Wiseau with his well-paid rent-a-crew laughing at him behind his back. This is a winning performance from Franco, and all up is a major entertainment.
4 – highly recommended!

Tulip Fever
Director: Justin Chadwick
Length: 105 min

© Roadshow – visually lovely -
old fashioned story-telling
In Holland in the 1600s the market for tulip bulbs was as crazed as Wall Street before a crash. This period romance is set against that background. Sophia (Alicia Vikander) is taken from an orphanage and married off to wealthy spice merchant Cornelis (Christoph Waltz). When Cornelis commissions an impoverished artist Jan van Loos (Dean de Haan) to paint the couple, attraction flares between the young wife and the artist, who hatches a crazed scheme to get Sophia out of her marriage so she can escape with him. Needless to say the scheme involves buying into the tulip market. Despite there being not a lot of credible chemistry between the young couple, this is a handsome film which evokes the period really well, and looks gorgeous, using the palette of colours as used by artists of the day. It is old fashioned solid story telling that certainly engaged me, and while breaking no barriers the film makes for a good couple of idle hours of viewing (and who doesn’t want to gawp at the gorgeous Vikander!)
3 - recommended!

Killing of a Sacred Deer
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Length: 120 min

© Madman- very disturbing and compelling
Director Lanthimos sure knows how to disturb an audience. This is the story of cardio surgeon Steven (Colin Farrell) married to ophthalmologist Anna (Nicole Kidman). Steven has befriended Martin (Barry Keoghan), son of a man who died on his operating theatre some years earlier. When Steven’s kids Bob and Kim become inexplicably paralysed, it seems Martin, who declares the kids will die soon, is implicated! Steven is asked to make a horrendous sacrifice to restore order. Freaky and unsettling are the two words I’d use to describe this strange but powerful film. From long camera shots down corridors of a hospital, to ultra close-ups of faces, along with a distressing plot and edgy string-based music, Killing of a SD manages to present a scenario which straddles themes of revenge, justice (maybe) and psycho-horror in a slick and compelling way. Performances are uniformly excellent. While it’s not everyone’s cuppa, with a win for Best Screenplay at Cannes, it’s certainly something out of the ordinary.
3.5 - well recommended!

Saturday, 25 November 2017

November 23 2017
Goodbye Christopher Robin
The Butterfly tree
Japanese Film Festival
The Teacher

Unfortunately a late blog this week. Returned from a five day jaunt up north to find internet totally down (along with downed wires in the street) and good ol' Telstra saying no technician available for 5 days!! So on a learning curve with the iphone hotspot, but Slow, slow slow!!! Let's hope for a big catch-up and a functional network for next week's blog (which will also run late, thanks to modern technology!) 

Goodbye Christopher Robin
Director: Simon Curtis
Length: 107 min
© Fox - take the tissues! 
Writer Alan Alexander Milne (Domnhall Gleeson) returns traumatised  from World War One and moves himself, his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) and their 8-year-old son Christopher Robin (Will Tilston) to the peace of the English countryside, where he starts writing an anti-war book. Soon all else is overwhelmed by his decision to write a children's book, based upon the toys, especially the teddy bear, so beloved of his son. The worldwide success of Winnie-the-Pooh is phenomenal, but it puts terrible pressure upon a little boy's life. I grew up with this book, and it has so many important memories for me, so you may say I'm prejudiced in my review. The director does a superb job of balancing the darkness of the post-war period with the sweet innocence of childhood and a sense of how a child's imagination can lift up all those who come into contact with it. The formality and distance of the Milne parents is in stark contrast to the warmth of CR's nanny, Olive, (Kelly McDonald), while the media feeding frenzy that results from Pooh's publication is still resonant for today's celebrity-struck world. This film, while it could have risked being overly sentimental, is delicate, magical, and beautiful, with an unforgettable child performance at its heart - a heart that is at once sad, exquisite and timeless. 
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended!

The Butterfly Tree
Director: Priscilla Cameron
Length: 108 min
© Kabuku PR - gorgeous to look at - intriguing and sexy
as father and son vie for the same woman
Evelyn (Melissa George) is an exotic dancer who also runs a flower shop. Her zest for life, her beauty and seductiveness manage to enchant widower Al (Ewen Leslie) and his son Fin (Ed Oxenbould). Fin confuses maternal craving and teenage lust, while Al's grief sees him turning to one of his students (Sophie Lowe) for comfort. With father and son competing for Evelyn's attention, fireworks ensue, but the glamorous Evelyn has disturbing secrets of her own. Fin's collection of butterflies, and the fact that Evelyn dances in a beautiful butterfly costume lends this film a wild visual beauty. There are many moments of intense magic realism that are splendidly visually alluring, but there is also an odd tone to the film - it never quite knows if it wants to be high drama or vaguely comedic. Despite several overly-familiar plot devices, there is a lot to enjoy in this film, which is a sweet exploration of important themes of  fathers and sons, loss, longing, grief, illness and growing up. Notable is young Oxenbould, who is turning into a fine young actor. 

Japanese Film Festival
Melbourne 23 Nov - 3 Dec 
ACMI and Hoyts Melbourne Central
See website for other dates

Not enough Japanese films get releases in Australia for my liking. and I don't mean only anime or samurai/ninja  films - just films about everyday lives, reflecting modern day Japan. So the festival is a splendid opportunity to catch a few and open your eyes to a fascinating culture.
Highly recommended are: Love and Other Cults, Radiance (closing night film), and This Corner of the World, an exquisitely painted animation telling the story of a family back in the time of the bombing of Hiroshima. 
Visit the website for times and listings of films. 

The Teacher
Director: Jan Hrebek
Length: 102 min
© Palace - she may look sweet, but she's a 
manipulative and dark character. 
Teacher Maria Drazdechova (Zuzana Maurery) comes new to school with smiles and seeming charm. She wants to know all her students, especially what each of their parents does for a job. This dark Czech film is based on true dastardly doings back in 1980s Czechoslovakia, when this scurrilous teacher, also a head of the Communist party, extracted all sorts of favours from pupils' parents in exchange for good marks. Incredible but true, this dark comedy will enrage you, and certainly impress with the terrific award winning performance by Maurery. The era is fabulously recreated, and the moral issues are still highly relevant in today's world.
4 - highly recommended! 

Thursday, 16 November 2017

November 17 2017
German Cinema Melbourne - 17-25 November
Latino Film Festival - 16-29 Nov

The quantity of pre-festival viewing has reached overload proportions and I seem to have consequently missed a couple of other latest releases. There's only so many films a person can fit into a week! Hopefully I'll bring them to you in the coming weeks. Nevertheless, this week's release Lucky is a total winner, while two new festivals promise plenty of delights. 

Director: John Carroll Lynch
Length: 88 min
© Umbrella - philosophical, poignant, beautiful
To steal from the press material,  Lucky is at once "a love letter to the life and career of Harry Dean Stanton, as
well as a meditation on mortality, loneliness, spirituality, and human connection." I couldn't have put it better myself. This is one of those standout pieces of film-making that will possibly make my top films of 2017! It is HDS's last film before he died, so very pertinent and, according to the screenwriter, written with Harry in mind. Lucky is a 90-something taciturn bloke, who chain-smokes, still exercises, and is viewed fondly by the folk of his Arizona town despite his lack of social graces. Lucky's nihilistic, existential approach to life changes a little as some low-key connections with others start to happen. It's hard to verbalise ideas about a film like this; it's best to let it sink in at some subliminal emotional level and speak to your own views on the deeper issues of life, death and nothingness! I adore the simplicity, sparseness, humour and poignancy of this film and Stanton's performance is a winner - a truly fitting finale! 
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended!

German Cinema Melbourne
17th-25th November
Venue: Backlot Studios

After the demise of the former German Film Festival, and the dire threat of no more German films being showcased, a brave team got together to launch a new German film festival. Peter Krausz, artistic director, has chosen some mighty fine films for us to enjoy. I can highly recommend the two I've already previewed.

Berlin Falling
Director: Ken Duken
Length: 91 min
This taut thriller will get you in from go to woe. Frank, a returned soldier, is in an emotional mess after a stint in Afghanistan. Travelling to Berlin to meet his family, he picks up a hitchhiker, Andreas. The freeloader is not what he seems, and the whole thing turns into a nightmare. With alarming resonance for recent terror attacks in Europe (and Berlin), this is a top notch, edge of your seat film.

Fritz Lang
Director: Gordian Maugg
Length: 104 min 
© German CM: Heino Ferch is a great Lang
This innovative and excellent opening night film centres upon the iconic German filmmaker Fritz Lang, and his filming of the 1930 movie M, partly inspired by a real life serial killer of the time. This is extraordinary film-making, with the whole being shot in monochrome, using a 4:3 ratio, so that clips from Lang's actual films, along with archival footage of the times, can be seamlessly incorporated into the whole. It's a fascinating insight into an era, and a film-maker's inspirations and obsessions. 

All up 11 films will screen, along with events, music, panel discussions, and of course parties! 
For further details visit:

Latino Film Festival
16-29 November Melbourne 
Venue: Palace Como, Palace Westgarth
See website for other states. 

This festival brings you films from all over the Latin American world: Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Argentina. With 26 films, a Mexican fiesta, and special Argentinian night, there is mucho to choose from.  

Desert Bride
Dir: Cecilia Atan & Valeria Pivato
78 mins
© Palace -a warm and unassuming film
Paulina Garcia (who you may have seen in Gloria) plays Theresa, a woman who has worked as a maid for one family for 30 years of her life. While travelling to another post, she mislays her baggage and kindly market vendor  Gringo (Claudio Rissi) offers to drive her on the hunt for it. This gentle film delicately looks at issues of love, change and aging, and somehow its short runtime still allows it to explore its themes in a way that resonates with you long after the film is over.

At the End of the Tunnel
Dir: Rodrigo Grande
120 mins
© Palace -tension plus
This is the sort of heist film I wish there were more of. Joaquin is a grumpy widower, wheelchair bound after an accident that killed his wife and child. When a young boarder and her mute child move in, Joaquin gets a new lease on life, until he discovers, via a bit of eavesdropping and a secret camera, that a gang of crims are in the flat next door, tunneling under the building and plotting a bank robbery. The nail-biting tension rarely lets up for a moment in this exciting, at times, claustrophobic film. 

For further details, film synopses, times and ticketing visit:

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

November 9 2017
Murder on the Orient Express
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
Brad's Status
Russian Resurrection Film Festival

Oh my goodness - so many marvelous films - yet again. If you ever wonder why I always seem to rave about what I see, it's probably because I consciously choose not to see those films I assume, (usually correctly), will not be so worthwhile. So with some seriously strong new releases, and another fine festival, here we go again!

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Length: 143 min
© Entertainment One - visceral historical racial drama
In 1967 in America the level of civil unrest grew, particularly stemming from decades of racial inequality and unemployment in African American communities. One fateful night after police raided an unlicensed black club, major riots broke out in the streets of Detroit.  Subsequently  the National Guard and armed police were on high alert, so when they heard shots at the nearby Algiers motel they stormed the place, resulting in a horrific night of brutality and ultimately murder of three unarmed black men. This disturbing and visceral film is based upon that dreadful moment in history. Bigelow is quite remarkable in her direction, which puts the viewer right in there with the unfolding terror. She cleverly personalises the story by featuring individuals from a Motown singing group, The Dramatics, who were in that motel after being unable to get home due to the curfew.  Just thinking of what took place makes my blood boil: white police terrorised and brutalised innocent young blacks (and the two white women who were with them), and, like so many recent cases today, got away with it. My one reservation is that, while the story is essential and still relevant viewing, Bigelow's lingering on the scenes of  the vile racist and mysogynistic cops doing their disgusting torture/intimidation of so-called "suspects", is almost unwatchable.  
4 - highly recommended!

Murder on the Orient Express
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Length: 113 min
© 20th Century Fox  -  Hercules {Poirot - the greatest
detective ever (and modest!) 
Agatha Christie's novel was published back in 1934 and made into a film 40 years later. Another 43 years on, iconic actor Branagh directs a new version, penned by Michael Green, who has just written Blade Runner 2049. Grand credentials, and even more so when you consider the cast which includes Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz and Willem Dafoe. Opening in Jerusalem, with absorbing crowd scenes and introducing the characters, the film moves to Istanbul, from where the stately locomotive ploughs its way into the snowy mountains before suffering a derailment, and a murder on board. I, luckily, could remember nothing about who dies and whodunnit, so my level of intrigue remained high. Branagh is perfect as the arrogant detective who suffers a crisis of self-confidence, and each of the fabulous actors is perfectly cast in his or her roles. The plot even raises a few moral issues to chew on. My only problem is Poirot's conclusions as to how each character fits into the back story all seems to get explained so quickly, and I barely had enough time to thoroughly enjoy each of the wonderfully drawn characters. While a traditional and old-fashioned story, this is entertainment in the truest sense of the word - an engaging plot, fabulous actors, and a stylish period look with a fabulous recreation of glamour and elegance. 
3 - recommended!

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women
Director: Angela Robinson
Length: 108 min
Exclusive to Cinema Nova
© Sony- a surprising backstory to the creation of a 
The creator of the cartoon superhero Wonder Woman was Harvard professor and psychologist, Dr William Marston (Luke Evans). The early version of the cartoon in 1941, with its violence and implied sexuality of a bondage-related nature, created quite a bit of controversy. In this eye-opening biography, we discover what and who inspired him to create the character, who is in some ways an amalgam of all he loved in his strong wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and another young woman Olive (Bella Heathcote), who ended up in a polyamorous relationship with the Marstons. It's hard to classify this multi-layered film - it's a highly entertaining mix of historical fact (including the invention of the lie detector), love story, psychological theories of dominance and submission as espoused by Marston, and a good dose of erotica, especially related to bondage and fantasy fulfillment. Other themes raised, of feminism, gender inequality, prejudice and censorship are still highly relevant to today's world, along with the sad fact that people who want to live their private lives a certain way, are so often made answerable to society at large. This is an intriguing entertainment with memorable performances by the three leads, even if at times the musical score gets a bit overwrought!      
3.5 - well recommended!

Brad's Status
Dir: Mike White
102 min
Exclusive to Cinema Nova
© Roadshow - one of Ben Stiller's best perfs to date
Brad Sloane (Ben Stiller) is accompanying his son Troy (Austin Abrams)  from Sacramento, where they live,  to Boston, where Troy will interview for entry to prestigious universities. The father-son trip is colored by Brad's crisis of self-esteem, as he remembers his old school chums who have seemingly made it - a hedge fund manager, tech wizard, and well known author - while Brad works for a not-for-profit organisation. This is intelligent and sensitive script-writing, with possibly Stiller's best performance yet. I love this sort of gently amusing introspective comedy/drama, and I imagine many people, struggling with where they are in life, will relate to this big time. Jemaine Clement, Luke Wilson and Michael Sheen are terrific in the small roles as Brad's now-estranged high school pals, and of course it goes without saying that things are not always as rosy for those guys as Brad imagines. There is a lovely warm family vibe here, and there are real life lessons to take away, but the film never lets itself get get didactic. One of the best mid-life crises films I've seen for a long while!
4 - highly recommended!

Dir: Greg McLean
111 min

© Umbrella - nightmare in the Bolivian Jungle 
This is based upon the memoir of Yossi Ghinsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), a young Aussie traveller who goes on a Bolivian jungle adventure with two others and a dodgy guide (Thomas Kretschmann), only to become separated, lost and injured, and nearly lose his mind. I'm ambivalent about this film - I really like Radcliffe's performance as he pours his heart into the terrified yet doggedly determined Ghinsberg. But, as Yossi goes quietly nuts all by himself, there is not really enough plot to stop things from getting a trifle tedious. My main beef is with the direction. McLean, famed for Wolf Creek, injects too many mainstream pseudo-horror tricks into the narrative, (snakes, jaguars, quicksand, roasting monkeys etc) rather than just letting the story and the spectacular setting speak for themselves.   
2.5 - maybe! 

Russian Resurrection Film Festival
9-19 November Melbourne (see website for other states)
Venue: ACMI

The oldest and most respected Russian film festival outside Russia is back. Here are some recommendations:

© RRFF-can dreams come true for a girl like Julia? 
Dir: Valery Todorovsky
132 mins
This exquisite film takes us inside the lives of the students at the world-famous Bolshoi ballet school. The story focuses upon Julia, a girl from an under-privileged family, who is spotted dancing on the street and taken to audition. The narrative explores the dreams, aspirations, disappointments and rivalries, along with the friendships of the youngsters. This is one of the most naturalistic films I've seen about ballet, with exquisite dancing, an engaging plot which toggles between Julia's younger life, and her ballet training, with the two actresses being perfectly cast for credibility. An added plot thread is bout the aging school director, Beletskaya, suffering Alzheimers, but befriending Julia (a stunning performance by one of Russia's great actresses). With glorious ballet and a score by Tchaikovsky, this is unmissable for ballet fans, or even for any fans of great films.
Attraction: Touted as a Russian blockbuster akin to Independence Day, this is the tale of a spacecraft being shot down over Moscow, and the ensuing chaos. It focuses upon a group of youngsters, the father of one being a noted Colonel, and the resulting upset to all their lives - obviously. The nature of the aliens is a surprise, and there are plenty of in-your-face comments on the odious nature of earthlings. But while the film may appeal to die-hard sci-fi fans, for me it's too derivative and in parts almost laughable.
Paradise: Russian and Hollywood director Andrew Konchalovsky features in a special retrospective this festival. His 2016 film Paradise is a remarkable Holocaust film  about  three characters: Jules a French Nazi collaborator, Olga, who he arrests for hiding Jewish children and Helmut, a Nazi concentration camp officer who once knew and loved Olga and rediscovers her in the camp. The film deserves its many awards with its unusual style of story telling, its powerful performances, and its disturbing portryal of not only the ghastly conditions in the camp, but also the oddly self-righteous way each character has of believing they are right in the moral ambiguity of what they do. In French, Russian and German, this film is compellingly powerful.  

For dates, times and ticketing, visit:

Saturday, 4 November 2017

November 2 2017
Loving Vincent
The Ornithologist
Three Summers
Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool (from Cunard British Film Festival) 

Yessirree, another week, another batch of movie offerings. A couple here I really loved, and even the others I'm less enamoured of still have something that could appeal to various viewers. 
Loving Vincent
Director: Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman
Length: 95 min
© Madman - see Van Gogh's painting come to life!
If you've seen the trailer, you've probably already gasped in amazement as the instantly recognisable paintings of Vincent van Gogh come alive on the screen, characters speaking and landscapes swirling into animated life. The stats of this film are gob-smacking: every one of the 65,000 frames in the film is a hand-painted oil painting, each done by 125 professional artists from all over the world. The pictures come to life to tell the story of  Armand, the son of a postman, charged with delivering a letter from Vincent  to his brother Theo. Upon discovering Theo died a week after Vincent supposedly killed himself, Armand goes on a quest to find out what he can about the life and death of the artist. This is groundbreaking film-making - never before has a whole film been done using individually oil-painted frames. In a technique called rotoscope, real actors play the scenes, and somehow by computer wizardry this is overlaid with the paintings, and voila, the artworks come to life! Some folks say the technicality outshines the story-telling, but I find the plot fascinating, and the clever use of reverting to black and white sketches when townsfolk tell Armand of past episodes of Vincent's life, make it easy to follow. This film is so visually stunning, and exciting in its concept, it deserves to be revelled in.  
4 - highly recommended!

Director: George Clooney
Length: 104 min
© Roadshow - Mr Nice Guy is not so nice
under his mild-mannered veneer 
Here's a conundrum: this film got nominated for a Golden Lion at this year's Venice FF, yet only rates 26% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes! Who can you believe? Me of course!! And I say it's not so terrible as to warrant the tomato-score, but it is somewhat muddled in its structure. With Coen Brothers having  a hand in the writing there have to be some good points - surely? The plot intrigues - in a 1950s white American suburb all seems rosy, until a black family moves in, inflaming the neighborhood. Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) lives with his crippled wife, Rose, and her twin, Margaret, sweet as apple pie and carer to her sister (both played by Julianne Moore). Young son Nicky (Noah Jupe) rounds out the "happy" family. One night robbers break in and tie up the family, managing to kill Rose. Things are never what they seem, and as insurance monies are claimed and police line-ups arranged in vain, it seems there's more than meets the eye. Meantime the anti-race sentiment erupts into full-blow rioting. I was entertained by the way things got steadily worse for a bunch of unpleasant characters. The only vaguely nice folk are Uncle Mitch and of course the kid (Jupe's performance is a winner), but my big beef is that this is like two different film plots rolled into one, and ne'er the twain shall meet! Suburbicon, while wryly exposing the dark underbelly of suburbia, tries to interweave a racial plot and it just doesn't gel as a whole. Nevertheless, performances are great, (including a ripper from Oscar Isaac as the insurance assessor) and there's enough black humour to warrant my score . . . 
3 - recommended (just)!

The Ornithologist
Director: Joao Pedro Rodrigues
Length: 118 min
© Sharmill - critically acclaimed film that leaves
me floundering to understand its religious
Fernando (Paul Hamy) is on a bird-watching expedition, canoeing on a remote river in northern Portugal when his kayak unexpectedly encounters rapids, and he is swept away. Two Chinese pilgrim girls, walking the Camino but now lost in a forest, find his near lifeless body and rescue him, only to then tie him up, for who knows what purpose. The director writes in his notes much about revered Portugese saint, Anthony, and sees this film as a version of  the saint's journeys and travails. I am so out on a limb here compared to many other critics, mainly because I simply fail to to follow what the film is trying to convey to me. There are aspects I admire - the languid scenes on the river, the beautiful birds, and the tension that mounts as Fernando flees, not only from the girls, but all manner of strange threats lurking in the forest. But when the movie unexpectedly shifts into what feels like a different genre, with topless Grecian huntresses, revelling young men in bizarre costumes, a gay mute goatherd and more, I no longer comprehend - my ignorance of mythological and religious symbolism, perhaps! With its totally inexplicable conclusion, the film finally lost me. 
2.5 - maybe!

Three Summers
Director: Ben Elton
Length: 95 min
© Transmission - fun at the folk festival - three
years in a row!
This romantic ensemble comedy is set at a WA music festival, three years running. Keevey (Rebecca Breeds) and her dad (John Waters) play in the WArrikins, an Irish folk group. When Keevey meets snobby intellectual theremin player Roland (Robert Sheehan), who is keen on her, they fall to brawling over musical differences. Each year DJ Queenie (Magda Szubanski) runs the radio commentary and interviews, while local Morris dancer Henry (Michael Caton) shows his racist side when a troupe of Aboriginal dancers led by Jack (Kelton Pell) join the festival. Ok, so it's a self-consciously feel-good movie with plenty of predictability, and a lot of digs at the current political sore spots in our country, including indigenous recognition and immigration policies. But I really had more than three stars worth of fun with this, loved the characters, enjoyed the music, and while it breaks no film-making boundaries it's a charming entertainment with the cream of Aussie comedic talent, including Deborah Mailman, Jacqueline McKenzie, Kate Box and Peter Rowsthorn. British writer/director  Elton, who lives here now, has a keen eye for Aussieness, and incorporates it well into his script. 
3 - recommended!

Another winner from the ongoing British Film Festival . . . 
Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool
Still a chance to catch it on 11 and 12 November!

© BFF - Annette Bening and Jamie Bell bring an
age-disparate, true life romance to the screen

Peter Turner (Jamie Bell) started acting in his teens, and wrote a memoir of an incredible affair he had with Hollywood screen siren Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening), many years his senior. Their true story is told here in this delicate film which focuses upon Grahame's later years when she has left Hollywood glitz and now acts in theatre. With ailing health she reaches out to her former lover and heads over to Liverpool for some recuperation with Peter's family. The emotional feel and quality of acting in this is a revelation. The leads are perfect together, and Bening shows again why she is one of today's top actors. Julie Walters is adorable as Peter's compassionate mum. As a glimpse into the terrible tyranny of aging, especially for someone once so beautiful, this is heartbreaking stuff, as is the tender romance which speaks of a love beyond mere sexual attraction. I loved this film! 
4 - highly recommended!
Visit for details of times